a pair of coloured mandalas from my mandala meditation colouring book

Books to Inspire Your Year

Monthly Favourites

Happy Monday! In my 2016 Goal Setting post, I expressed that one of my goals for the new year is to curate my media. And a big chunk of that media is books. I read a LOT, but over the last year, I found that I wasn’t reading a great many things that had some big impact on me or left me feeling inspired. I want to read more books that improve my quality of life.

I want to feel inspired every day, and inspiration doesn’t always come to you; sometimes you have to go to it. 2016 has, thus far, been off to a brilliant start. Erik and I just finished reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (a somewhat sad achievement, because we’ve slowly been working our way through it over the last year and it has become a source of inspiration and comfort during that time) and I’m now beginning to make my way through Guns, Germs, and Steel. If you’re also in the market for some inspirational reading material, here are some books to get you started.

1) Mandala Meditation Coloring Book

While this isn’t technically a book that one reads, I was so excited about it that I just had to share. 

2015 was the year of adult colouring. Nearly every bookstore I visited during the holiday season had giant tables devoted to adult colouring books and a variety of colouring accoutrements. And let me tell you, I drank the Kool-aid. I am now the proud owner of three colouring books, but this Mandala Meditation one quickly became my favourite.

I’ve always loved mandalas. Just to look at one is a peaceful experience, as your eyes trace the intricate patterns. Traditionally, they’ve been used as a tool for spiritual guidance, to help the viewer find a sacred or meditative state. And, super cool, they represent the cosmos, symbolizing a “microcosm of the universe” (Wiki’s words, not mine). But even if you aren’t thinking about all of these things while you’re colouring, it’s easy to get lost in the act of systematically colouring each component of the mandala.

I like to pick a colour scheme by choosing a few markers or pencil crayons that I want to use, and then work from the inside out, choosing one component of the mandala to colour, and working my way around the circle before moving to next outer ring. Let me know if you end up trying it out!

2) The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is Gretchen Rubin’s story of how she planned a year of becoming a happier person. For each month of the year, she chose an aspect of her life that she wanted to improve, and then set specific attainable goals to tackle that month that she felt would help facilitate this improvement. 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. I bought when I was feeling particularly down, during a time in my life when my depression was at its worst. Oddly, during that time, I couldn’t bring myself to read it, and since then, I’ve been saving it in case another such time crops up and I feel like I truly need it. However, I’ve been hearing about it with odd frequency lately, from a few friends and family members. So, while I’m not feeling too shabby at the moment, it still feels like an appropriate time to read it. I love a good action plan. I love structure. And I love seeing somebody create a sweet ass plan and carry it out. I’m excited to read this. 

3) A Short History of Nearly Everything

I am a big fan of origin stories. The beginnings of an adventure always seem to be the most exciting for me. And there doesn’t seem to be an adventure more epic than the evolution of the universe. 

Bill Bryson’s writing style is so charming and funny. He discusses a broad range of subjects including the origins of the universe, scientific history, physics, and other subjects that might be considered dry or difficult, in a simplified, easy-to-understand, and entertaining way. There have been many moments where I’ve laughed out loud and had to whip out a highlighter for the funniest or most mindblowing bits. 

4) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

This is one of the books that I’m currently reading. In my 2016 Goals post, I also mentioned that I wanted to declutter my life a little bit. I can be a bit of a collector at times, and I hope this book will help me learn to more easily let go of things that are no longer serving me. I’ve heard lots of great things about this book, and I’m excited to see the impact it has on how I tidy. I’ve already culled my bookshelves, organized my socks and underwear drawers, and accumulated 3 garbage bags of things to take to my next clothing swap! 

5) Guns, Germs, and Steel

Look! Another origin story! While “A Short History of Nearly Everything” covers the more scientific aspects of history, “Guns, Germs, and Steel” tackles the more human side of our history, beginning with our origins in Africa, to where we are today. This book has been on my radar for years, and Erik has been recommending it to me for nearly as long; now that I’m finally reading it, I’m thinking, “Man, why didn’t I get to this sooner?” 

6) Brave Enough

Brave Enough is a book of quotes from Cheryl Strayed’s other books. Strayed explains in the introduction to the book that she’s always been somebody who collected quotes and this collection has been an important part of her life. So she compiled this book of her own quotes, most of which I found really inspiring and awesome. Cheryl Strayed seems to have a very cool, unique world-view, and Brave Enough has made me excited to read some of her other non-fiction works, specifically, “Wild” and “Tiny Beautiful Things”. 

I hope the you’ll find something to inspire and uplift you here. And if you have any suggestions for inspirational reading material, I would love your recommendations. More soon! xxoo

Joyous Health: A Cookbook Review

Joyous Health Review

Product Review, Wellbeing

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a bibliophile and thus, I can never be found without a book in hand. For a while now, that book has been my go-to cookbook, Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well without Dieting by Joy McCarthy. I just can’t seem to keep my nose out of it. Whenever I’m feeling like I need some recipe inspiration, or even a little cheering up, it has definitely proven helpful to look through this vibrant and beautifully designed book.

Fun fact: Joy was one of my instructors at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition where she taught one of our social media classes. She was so energetic and awesome as a result of which, I’ve been following her blog ever since. 

“Joyous health is more than the absence of disease or the avoidance of the occasional cold or flu. It is an optimal state of wellness not just physically but mentally and socially, characterized by: a positive mindset, feeling and looking fabulous, good digestion and elimination, restorative sleep, healthy relationships, having energy for exercise and sex, [and] feeling joyous!”

As much as I love a good cookbook, I like a good lifestyle guide even more. Over half of “Joyous Health” is a lifestyle and wellness directory. It’s the perfect book for individuals who are just beginning their wellness journey, and aren’t sure where to start. In the lifestyle guide section of the book, Joy provides her 6-week program to “Joyous Health”, including tips for improving your digestion, improving your emotional health, and a 10-day meal plan complete with easy-to-follow recipes and simple ingredients. It was quite a struggle to keep myself from highlighting the whole book. 

It's not always about food. It's also about choosing to have a joyous attitude.

The book is all-encompassing and approaches health from a truly holistic perspective, featuring everything from food elimination for optimal digestion; how to clean up your beauty regimen; a list of her favourite superfoods; how to give your kitchen a makeover; and how to improve your mental health though activities like yoga, meditation and pursing healthy and positive relationships. 

You always have the power of choice and the power to heal your body. You have choice over your thoughts, actions, words and every morsel you eat.

 The photography and design of the book is stunning. It is bright and colourful, and truly puts you in an atmosphere of joy, hopefulness, and positivity while reading it. I also tend to have a bit of a thing for lists, which there is no shortage of in these pages. 

I made quite a few of the recipes in the book, but one of my favourites was the Curry Lentil Loaf on page 234. It is so filling and delicious, and it makes a huge batch of the stuff. I ended up recently finding a few squares that I froze a couple of months ago and I am so happy to be re-enjoying this recipe. It’s fabulous on its own, or crumbled over a salad (and is especially tasty saturated in balsamic vinaigrette with some goat cheese and sundried tomato). 

“Joyous Health” is definitely a must-have on my health and wellness shelf. Though it actually doesn’t spend very much time on said shelf since I’m so often riffling through it! 

A nice tall glass of cucumber water, garnished with a cucumber slice, featuring my glass straw

My Favourite Summer Health Products

Monthly Favourites, Product Review

Bonjour, lovely people! If, like me, you live in the GTA, you may have been subject to some wet and chilly weather over the past weekend. Oddly, I quite enjoy a nice rainy weekend, during which I enjoy putting my feet up, drinking a butt ton of tea, and binge reading. Here’s to hoping you all spent your weekend enjoying similar comfort! I’m off to work for the rest of the afternoon and before I depart, I want to leave you with my Summer Favourites, a list of the health related tidbits that I’ve been enjoying over the past couple months. I haven’t done one since last November! You may notice that all of my favourite things are food related. I guess it’s pretty clear where my priorities lie.

1) Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting

I am in love with this book. About the first two-thirds of the book is dedicated to advice for improving your digestion and lifestyle over the course of several weeks. The final third is full of amazing recipes complete with a 10-day meal plan to help get you started on your wellness journey. I’m planning on posting a full review within the next week or two, so stay tuned for that!

Cover shot of the "Joyous Health" cookbook by Joy McCarthy

2) Chai Rooibos Organic Tea by Yogi

I can never stay faithful to any one kind of tea for very long, but this tea is the one I am loving right now. It is spicy, sweet, and feels a bit like dessert when you get smacked with late night cravings. I enjoy mine with a splash of almond milk. My kitty, Sonny Wa, was desperate to be in every shot I took of this tea, so I decided to just leave him to it.

Chai Rooibos tea by Yogi (my tabby cat is lounging in the background)

3) Genuine Health Proteins+ vanilla whey protein powder

So, this is my favourite protein powder ever. It makes EVERYTHING I put it in taste like a vanilla milkshake! My dear friend Saar hooked me up with a container for my birthday at the end of June, and I probably only have half a serving left, if I’m lucky. My only advice would be, if you add this protein powder to your smoothies, to drink it right away (which you should do anyway for maximum nutrient density) as I find it becomes weirdly sweet if left for too long.

Genuine Health Proteins+ Vanilla Whey Protein Powder

4) My glass straw

Every morning, I have a cup of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. This amazing practice aids in detoxifying the liver, and cleansing the digestive tract. All that acid, however, can be quite harsh on the teeth, so I picked up a glass straw to help out with that. I wouldn’t advise using a glass straw for a smoothie unless you have a straw cleaning brush (which I don’t) because I imagine all those little berry seeds and fibres can get stuck to the inside of the straw. But it is super fun for drinking everything else!

A nice tall glass of cucumber water, garnished with a cucumber slice, featuring my glass straw

5) Styrian Gold Austrian pumpkin seed oil

I first discovered this oil at the Raw Vegan Festival last summer. I tried it at their stall and right away, I knew I had to take home a bottle. It was gone SO fast. It has such a lovely nutty flavour and tastes good drizzled on all things savoury (I have yet to try it on sweet things, so I’ll have to give that a shot soon). I don’t know where you can find it in stores, but if you come across it in your travels, be sure to sample!

Beautiful dark green glass bottle of Styrian Gold Austrian pumpkin seed oil